Measures to combat ‘county lines’ drug dealing has contributed to a rise in the number of arrests for drug offences across the district, say North Yorkshire Police.
This includes arrests made for:
• Possession of controlled drugs (cannabis)
• Possession of controlled drugs (excluding cannabis)
• Trafficking in controlled drugs
• Other drug offences
The figures were released to the Advertiser earlier this month through a freedom of information request. It shows that just over 770 arrests were made relating to drug offences across the district over the past three years.
North Yorkshire Police have said the district is ‘a safe area, with low levels of drug-related crime’, and that the increase in figures is likely due to new measures to address drug offences in the district.
Across NYP’s safer neighbourhood areas last year there were a total of 276 arrests for drug offences, with Harrogate Outer seeing 108, Harrogate Town 91, Knaresborough/Boroughbridge 56 and Ripon/Pateley Bridge 21. In 2017 there were 265 overall, and 234 in 2016.
Last year the following streets saw the highest number of offences:
Knaresborough Road: 11
A1M (Within the NYP neighborhood areas): 8
Station Parade: 8
Kings Road: 6
Skipton Road: 6
A658 (Within the NYP neighborhood areas): 5
Harrogate Road: 5
Parliament Street: 4
Valley Drive: 3
High Street: 3
Beckwith Head Road came highest overall, with 13. NYP however say this figure is due to drug searches carried out by officers at Harrogate Police Station. When individuals are brought into custody they are arrested again if drugs are found, and the address recorded as the road.
North Yorkshire Police have said that county lines drug dealing often sees ‘serious violence and the exploitation of vulnerable people at its centre.’
A police spokesperson said: “Drug dealing is a hidden crime, we know it’s happening, but it is not reported in the same way that say a burglary is.
“Finding out about it depends on intelligence from the community and proactive activity by the police.
“In April 2018 we introduced a proactive county lines team in Harrogate as this type of drug dealing is a key priority for the force due to the level of violence used and the targeting of vulnerable people.
“The team is dedicated to working solely on county lines and patrol the area on a daily basis, either on foot or in vehicles, they regularly stop and search suspects, so this along with other proactive policing activity will naturally lead to an increase in recorded drug offences in the area.”
Adding that the impact of county lines drug dealing ‘would not be tolerated in Harrogate,’ the force highlighted recent efforts to address cuckooing and child criminal exploitation.
Earlier this month officers, alongside members of Harrogate Borough Council’s housing team, visited 15 victims of ‘cuckooing’ - where drug dealers use violence to take over a vulnerable person’s house to store and sell drugs.
Over the past week, eight people were also arrested by North Yorkshire Police and 30 welfare checks carried out on vulnerable people.
An NYP spokesperson said: “The simple fact is that drugs ruin lives, and we are determined to protect our communities from the harm they can cause.
“Furthermore, a number of the offences relate to ‘county lines’ drug dealing, which is a form of organised crime that has the exploitation of vulnerable people and serious violence at its centre.
“It ruins lives and communities and we won’t tolerate it in Harrogate.”
One of the most high profile county lines cases to emerge in Harrogate occurred in October, 2017 in the Bilton area, which left several people injured - including one man who was stabbed 12 times.
Detectives and staff from Harrogate CID were presented with a Judge’s Commendation for their work on the case last year, which resulted in three county lines dealers jailed for just over 50 years.
Julian Soares, 23, of Brixton, London was jailed for conspiracies to supply cocaine and heroin, 12 years for wounding, causing gross bodily harm, and one year for administering a noxious substance.
Mohamed Abdi, 26, of Tower Street, Leicester was jailed for wounding with intent to cause gross bodily harm, and supplying cocaine.
Adirahman Shire, 22, of Oak Street, Leicester was jailed for wounding with intent to cause gross bodily harm, and supplying cocaine.
Call North Yorkshire Police on 101, or to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.